You are on page 1of 19

ENERGY RESEARCH FOR THE BUILDING CODE OF AUSTRALIA

VOLUME 1
INTERNATIONAL SURVEY OF BUILDING ENERGY CODES FEASIBILITY STUDY A NATIONAL APPROACH TO ENERGY EFFICIENCY MEASURES FOR HOUSES IMPACT OF MINIMUM ENERGY PERFORMANCE REQUIREMENTS FOR CLASS 1 BUILDINGS IN VICTORIA

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The lead Commonwealth agency on greenhouse matters

E N E R G Y

R E S E A R C H

F O R

T H E

B U I L D I N G

C O D E

O F

A U S T R A L I A

V O L U M E

Acknowledgments
The Australian Greenhouse Office wishes to acknowledge the authors of the reports outlined in these Executive Summaries. The Office of the Australian Building Codes Board author of the International Survey of Building Energy Codes. CSIRO Building, Construction and Engineering author of Feasibility Study - A National Approach to Energy Efficiency Measures for Houses. Energy Efficient Strategies author of Impact of Minimum Energy Performance Requirements for Class 1 Buildings in Victoria. The Australian Greenhouse Office also wishes to acknowledge the support of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Victoria for co-funding Impact of Minimum Energy Performance Requirements for Class 1 Buildings in Victoria. While every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and completeness, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken by the Commonwealth for errors or omissions in the reports, and the Commonwealth does not accept responsibility in respect of any information or advice given in relation to or as a consequence of anything contained here.

Design Wingrove Wingrove Design Photos Courtesy of the Housing Industry Association, Michael Shaw
and Mirvac Lend Lease Village Consortium - Developers of Newington, the Sydney Olympic Village Background Image: courtesy of Robert Peck von Hartel Trethowan.

EE N E R G Y N E R G

R E S E A R C H S E A R C H

FF OORR T TH H E B B U L D D N G G C O D E EO FO F N A A U S T R A LI IA A E U I I L I I N C O D I U S T R A L

V O L U M E V O L U M E

FOREWORD

The Australian Government recognises that improving the energy performance of buildings is an important part of the strategy to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. The building and construction industry have reinforced to the Australian Government the need for uniform national building regulations to address energy and greenhouse concerns. In July 2000, the Commonwealth announced that agreement had been reached to incorporate minimum energy performance requirements into the Building Code of Australia. Before the changes can be developed considerable research will need to be conducted to ensure that the building code change is at the cutting edge of worlds best practice, is economically sound, and will deliver substantial greenhouse benefits. The Australian Greenhouse Office is pleased to present this set of three research papers as an important contribution to the debate on building code change. The first research paper examines current international building energy codes, the second paper considers the feasibility of climate zone based residential building energy codes, and the third paper examines the impact of a current State-based regulation. I would like to commend the authors of the three research papers, the Office of the Australian Building Codes Board, CSIRO Building Construction and Engineering, and Energy Efficient Strategies, as well as acknowledge the contribution of the respective Steering Committees representing industry and government organisations. I hope that this set of research papers will stimulate informed discussion about greenhouse issues, and facilitate the timely development of the Building Code of Australia.

Gwen Andrews Chief Executive Australian Greenhouse Office September 2000

E N E R G Y

R E S E A R C H

F O R

T H E

B U I L D I N G

C O D E

O F

A U S T R A L I A

V O L U M E

ISBN 1 876536 50 0 Commonwealth of Australia 2000


This work may be reproduced in whole or part for study or training purposes subject to the inclusion of an acknowledgment of the source and no commercial usage or sale. Reproduction for purposes other than those named above requires the permission of the Australian Greenhouse Office. Requests and inquiries concerning reproduction rights should be addressed to: The Communication Director Australian Greenhouse Office GPO Box 621, Canberra ACT 2601 For additional copies of this document, please contact the Australian Greenhouse Office Infoline on 1300 130 606. This publication is also available on the Internet at the following address:

www.greenhouse.gov.au/energyefficiency/building

E N E R G Y

R E S E A R C H

F O R

T H E

B U I L D I N G

C O D E

O F

A U S T R A L I A

V O L U M E

CONTENTS

INTERNATIONAL SURVEY OF BUILDING ENERGY CODES, EXECUTIVE SUMMARY BACKGROUND OBJECTIVE REGULATORY APPROACHES TECHNICAL HOUSES COMMERCIAL AND PUBLIC BUILDINGS CONCLUSION

4 4 4 4 5 6 7 7

FEASIBILITY STUDY A NATIONAL APPROACH TO ENERGY EFFICIENCY MEASURES IN HOUSES, EXECUTIVE SUMMARY BACKGROUND SCOPE AND OBJECTIVES FEASIBILITY ISSUES FRAMEWORKS FOR DEVELOPING DEEMED-TO-SATISFY PROVISIONS REGULATORY ISSUES RECOMMENDATIONS CONCLUSION

8 8 8 8 9 10 10 11

IMPACT OF MINIMUM ENERGY PERFORMANCE REQUIREMENTS FOR CLASS 1 BUILDINGS IN VICTORIA, EXECUTIVE SUMMARY BACKGROUND IMPACT OF ENERGY EFFICIENCY PROVISIONS IN VICTORIA KEY FINDINGS BUILDING TRENDS 1990-1999 PROFILE OF RESIDENTIAL BUILDING SECTOR 1990-1999 CONCLUSION

12 12 12 12 14 14 15

E N E R G Y

R E S E A R C H

F O R

T H E

B U I L D I N G

C O D E

O F

A U S T R A L I A

V O L U M E

INTERNATIONAL SURVEY OF BUILDING ENERGY CODES EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

BACKGROUND
International and domestic concern is rising over the effect of greenhouse gas emissions on climate change. The energy consumed in buildings is responsible for a significant proportion of total greenhouse gas emissions. Improving energy efficiency in buildings is an important part of Australias program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Regulating energy efficiency through building codes has been a successful strategy for many countries. This survey of current Building Energy Codes provides an insight into the different regulatory provisions applied to buildings in selected countries. The countries whose energy provisions were evaluated as part of this study were: Canada; New Zealand; Singapore; the United Kingdom (UK); and the United States of America (USA) with particular reference to California and Hawaii. These countries were selected because they all have regulatory frameworks similar to Australia and climate zones comparable to particular parts of Australia.

OBJECTIVE
The overseas codes studied have various objectives including conserving fuel, improving energy efficiency, and/or reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In Australia, the ACT and Victoria focus on energy efficiency while South Australia also refers to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Most other countries use energy as the stringency measure for their primary objective and it is understood that they all have some form of cost effectiveness.

REGULATORY APPROACHES
Most countries specify one or more regulatory approaches. Some, like the USA, have two or three methods, with up to five different procedures within each method. Further, there are tabulated alternatives or trade-offs within a procedure. However, all codes provide one or more of the following:
s s

A performance approach. A prescriptive approach with usually a multi-tabular format. A trade-off approach which compares a notional building complying with the prescriptive tables with a proposed building. The trade-off approach usually trades between envelope thermal insulation elements. The system of trade-off may allow trading to take into account heating and cooling systems.

The current energy provisions of South Australia, Victoria and ACT are also analysed. The building energy codes reviewed contain many similarities. They all contain prescriptive provisions and several have some form of performance requirement. For those with a performance base, the prescriptive provisions, if followed, achieve compliance with the performance requirements.
s s

An energy rating approach that compares a notional building to the proposed building on an energy consumption or cost basis.

It should be emphasised that this is a survey of current practices. It is known that Canada, the USA and other countries are moving to performance based building codes which will mean significant changes that could in turn affect their energy efficiency provisions. The Kyoto Protocol may also have prompted countries to commence reviewing their requirements.

E N E R G Y

R E S E A R C H

F O R

T H E

B U I L D I N G

C O D E

O F

A U S T R A L I A

V O L U M E

TECHNICAL
The proposed New Zealand and Canadian codes and current USA codes, all contain a method of compliance that involves comparing the proposed building with a similar standard building that complies with code requirements. The standard and proposed buildings must have similar features such as building dimensions, location, fuel sources and type of use. This allows direct comparison of unique characteristics and trade-offs between energy saving features. Any assumptions made in the calculations that may effect the result will be incorporated into both buildings and so minimise any impact. This is particularly important when using computer software. Some codes also have mandatory requirements, meaning those particular requirements cannot be traded, while other requirements for the same system can be traded. Even where trading is permitted there may be a limit on the extent of that trading. Other than New Zealand and the UK, the overseas codes studied are not strictly performance based in the Australian context. This may partially explain the degree of complexity in the Canadian and USA codes as they cover equivalence to Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions with the trade-off approach, and allow for options and innovation, all within the prescriptive code. In Australia, this is done outside the code as an assessment method. All national codes studied have a geographic basis with reliance on tables or maps to show values that vary around the country. These include weather or location specific data, thermal resistance values and for some, fuel type availability. Several national codes call up standards for example, Canada and the USA reference an ASHRAE standard; the UK references Approved Document L; and the New Zealand Code references New Zealand Standards. In all the codes examined, houses and other buildings are treated separately. All overseas countries have air tightness requirements with most involving some sealing treatment for the building envelope for both housing and other buildings. These include the provision of dampers in flues, sealing of service penetrations, full caulking of all building joints, window sealing performance, construction precautions and on site pressure testing performance. The USA requires swimming pools and spas to have covers and has requirements for pumps, heaters and controls. None of the codes examined has provisions for embodied energy. The range of overseas exemptions and limitations are extensive. They include very small buildings, energy used for process equipment, farm buildings, holiday houses, buildings not using much energy, buildings with no heating or cooling proposed or likely, and certain building systems (emergency lighting, smoke control etc).

E N E R G Y

R E S E A R C H

F O R

T H E

B U I L D I N G

C O D E

O F

A U S T R A L I A

V O L U M E

HOUSES
Most overseas codes examined have a relatively straight forward national approach for houses. They usually cover envelope thermal resistance; sealing the envelope; efficiency of the basic equipment; provision of easily accessible controls, and; insulation of hot water piping ductwork. Hawaii and Singapore have specific provisions for highly ventilated houses and their climates are similar to some parts of Australia. Further investigation into the effectiveness of their provisions would be useful if Australia was to consider similar requirements. The extent of climatic or geographic zoning usually depends upon the size of the country or the diversity of its climate. They range from 38 zones in the USA to one in Singapore. For the envelope of houses, most overseas codes cover wall, floor and roof insulation, windows and air leakage. Some include requirements for window shading, heater efficiencies, low water flow showerheads and the prohibition of pilot flames in equipment. The requirements for windows range from a maximum window to wall ratio, to more complicated calculations. No country in the study regulates internal lighting of houses. Some regulate external lighting to the extent of requiring automatic or timer actuated switching. Some have requirements for lighting in common areas of group housing. For the codes examined, provisions for houses are summarised in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Summary of housing provisions Performance v Prescriptive Performance Prescriptive Performance Prescriptive Prescriptive Performance Performance Performance Space Heating or Cooling Yes Yes No Yes No No No No Hot Water Yes Yes No Yes No No No No Air and vapour barriers

Country United Kingdom United States New Zealand Canada Canada Ontario ACT South Australia

Building Envelope Minimum R rating Minimum R rating or compare to reference building Minimum R rating or compare to reference building Minimum R rating or compare to reference building Minimum R rating or compare to reference building Computer Simulation

Lighting No Yes No Yes No No No No

Other

Exemptions Small extentions <10m2 Buildings with no heating and cooling Buildings with no heating and cooling Log cabins Small buildings <10m2 Cavity brick or 180mm + walls Cavity brick or 180mm + walls Cavity brick or 180mm + walls

Min R level or computer simulation Min R level or computer simulation

Victoria

E N E R G Y

R E S E A R C H

F O R

T H E

B U I L D I N G

C O D E

O F

A U S T R A L I A

V O L U M E

COMMERCIAL AND PUBLIC BUILDINGS


All overseas codes examined focus on the building envelope and the main engineering systems including lighting, air-conditioning, hot water systems, principal equipment, piping insulation and system controls. The Canadian and USA codes for public and commercial buildings have multiple methods, procedures and option paths, and appear complex. All performance and prescriptive codes require specialist energy expertise to use and assess compliance. Most overseas provisions for envelopes in large buildings are complex but are considerably simpler for smaller commercial and public buildings. The prescriptive approach, in particular, for larger buildings can be very detailed taking into account thermal resistance of walls, floors, roof and windows as well as radiant gains through windows and skylights. The radiant gains mean that shading devices, fenestration and building orientation become important. Usually the simplistic approach is based on a specified maximum window area not being exceeded. The more complex approach gives a range of options for the performance of all envelope elements as the window area increases. Although the scope varies, all overseas countries surveyed have requirements for the air-conditioning systems. These regulations cover the efficieny and fuel type of refrigeration and heating equipment, electric motors, pumps and fans. They also cover isolating and operating controls, acceptable or prohibited system types, as well as piping and ductwork insulation. Most countries require metering to individual residential units in apartment blocks and to each floor or tenancy in other buildings. Most also require monitoring or data logging facilities in commercial and public buildings to assist energy management and auditing. Hawaii has requirements that include providing access for maintenance and the provision of manuals. Some countries have requirements for electric motors and the avoidance of continually burning pilot flames on gas equipment. For the codes examined, provisions for commercial and public buildings are summerised in Figure 2.

CONCLUSION
The findings of this survey, and the recommendations contained in the Scoping Study published by the Australian Greenhouse Office in 1999 provide a strong technical basis for the development of appropriate energy performance regulations for Australian buildings.

Figure 2: Summary of commercial and public building provisions. Performance v Prescriptive Performance Prescriptive Performance Prescriptive Prescriptive Space Heating or Cooling Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Hot Water Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Electric power metering Air and vapour barriers, electric power metering

Country United Kingdom United States New Zealand Canada Canada Ontario

Building Envelope Minimum R rating

Lighting Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Other

Exemptions Small extentions <10m2, Buildings with no heating or cooling Buildings with no heating or cooling Buildings with no heating or cooling and <300m2 Farm buildings, small buildings <10m2 Buildings used for industrial processing, farm buildings, small buildings <10m2 N/A N/A N/A

Calculation of U values or compare to reference building Minimum R rating or compare to reference building Minimum R rating or compare to reference building Minimum R rating or compare to reference building Minimum R rating for Class 2 and 3 only No Minimum R rating for Class 2 and 3 only

ACT South Australia Victoria

Performance Performance Performance

No No No

No No No

No No No

E N E R G Y

R E S E A R C H

F O R

T H E

B U I L D I N G

C O D E

O F

A U S T R A L I A

V O L U M E

F E A S I B I L I T Y S T U D Y A N AT I O N A L A P P R O A C H T O E N E R G Y E F F I C I E N C Y M E A S U R E S F O R H O U S E S E X E C U T I V E S U M M A RY
BACKGROUND
Reducing the amount of energy used to achieve comfortable levels of temperature and humidity in buildings is an important strategy to reduce Australias greenhouse gas emissions. The Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments have agreed to incorporate a nationally consistent framework of minimum energy performance requirements into the Building Code of Australia (BCA), with the aim of significantly reducing the greenhouse impact of all new and substantially refurbished buildings. Australian Standard AS 2627.1 provides a structure for geographic differentiation since it gives recommendations for wall and ceiling insulation by location. This standard is not suitable in its present form for referencing by the BCA, but the possible form and role of its successor is considered in the study. This report explores the form and general content of potentially feasible energy efficiency measures. All of those presented are hypothetical. No actual measures have been developed at this stage.

SCOPE AND OBJECTIVES


This study assesses the feasibility of incorporating energy efficiency measures into the national building regulatory framework for houses. It builds on the Scoping Study of Minimum Energy Performance Requirements for Incorporation into the Building Code of Australia, published by the Australian Greenhouse Office in 1999.
s

FEASIBILITY ISSUES
Heat flow controls
The types of heat flow that a building must control to be energy efficient are: conductive heat flows through roofs, walls, floors and windows
s s

The national vehicle for building regulation is the BCA. The Housing Provisions cover Class 1 and Class 10 buildings, which are essentially domestic buildings. There is a requirement that measures in the BCA be costeffective. The diversity of Australian climates means that the cost benefits of energy efficiency measures will vary considerably across the country and this must be reflected in the BCA. These same climatic factors contribute to the variety of building styles in Australia and the variety of methods used to achieve thermal comfort. Mindful of these issues, particular attention has been given in this study to the development of a structure which may differentiate acceptable construction practice (called Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions in the BCA) according to:
s s s s s

solar heat gains through windows and skylights ventilation and infiltration

For each of these, there are measures specific to building elements which could be regulated by the BCA in order to control heat flow. These measures include:
s

minimum insulation levels for ceilings, walls, floors and windows specified permanent shading of window and walls maximum window areas (as a percentage of total floor area) and shading coefficients for solar gain specified opening sizes (as a percentage of total floor area) and maximum ventilation path lengths to facilitate natural airflow

geographic location; and building style (for example, whether the building is designed for predominant use of natural ventilation or to be conditioned)
s

weather stripping and dampers to control infiltration

E N E R G Y

R E S E A R C H

F O R

T H E

B U I L D I N G

C O D E

O F

A U S T R A L I A

V O L U M E

Defining climate zones


Dividing Australia into a number of climate zones is a simple way of devising climate-specific regulations. These zones would be regions that are climatically sufficiently similar to justify common energy efficiency measures. The overall process for establishing suitable climate zones appears to be feasible. The study found that an important step is the development of basic zoning methodology or criteria. The number of zones to be established depends on the balance between accuracy and simplicity. Given an expectation of reasonably spaced transitions between levels of insulation, glazing or other measures, an appropriate number of zones would be between 6 and 12.

Framework A: Elemental requirements


This framework would be based on tables specifying values for the nine key performance measures for each zone. These measures are roof, wall and floor insulation, overall glazing area, window shading, wall shading, ventilation, infiltration, and other climate specific measures.

Framework B: System performance measures


This framework would be based on system performance measures. It would replace grouped elemental measures (such as insulation levels for walls, ceilings and floors) with a single index that represents a weighted average for individual component contributions. This system would allow trade-offs between the measures in each group, providing greater flexibility for designers and builders.

FRAMEWORKS FOR DEVELOPING DEEMED-TO-SATISFY PROVISIONS


Three approaches have been studied as possible ways to frame Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions to meet residential energy efficiency requirements. These frameworks have common features. They all presume an Australian climate map which would have a number of zones that would allow practical tabulation of measure sets for each zone; they categorise houses into either low or high ventilation; and they categorise houses according to their thermal mass and window size. These choices may have a fundamental influence
on the thermal performance of the house and the relative merits of measures for insulation and glazing.

Framework C: Point-score methods


This framework would be based on a point-scoring system. Under this system, points could be allocated to each measure according to its cost-benefit and energy performance value. Houses would have to achieve a minimum total number of points to satisfy the energy efficiency requirements.

E N E R G Y

R E S E A R C H

F O R

T H E

B U I L D I N G

C O D E

O F

A U S T R A L I A

V O L U M E

Framework comparison
All three frameworks are technically capable of setting realistic minimum criteria for energy performance for Australian housing. While frameworks B and C may provide greater accuracy and flexibility, they require more calculations and impose some additional complexity during checking at the building permit/approval stage. They are therefore not recommended as a framework for Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions. It is recommended that a detailed form of framework A, incorporating elemental requirements for three levels of thermal mass and two levels each of ventilation and glazing, be the starting point for development of Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions.

RECOMMENDATIONS
Scope
The energy efficiency measures should apply to all new Class 1 buildings. For alterations and additions, the proposed energy efficiency measures should only apply to the proposed construction works. A guideline for refurbished buildings should be published for jurisdictions where the legislation may require the existing Class 1 building to be upgraded to comply with the new Housing Provisions Performance Requirements. The general community should be informed about the benefits of upgrading existing buildings during the alterations and additions process. The Housing Provisions should include controls for services and fixtures that can be approved at building permit and occupancy approval stage and can be demonstrated to be a permanent feature or fixture of the building. The control of fixtures can be implemented as part of, or as an additional requirement to, the building envelope requirements. The requirements for services controlled in the Housing Provisions must be compatible with other legislative requirements.

Basis for setting stringency levels


The report found that the stringency levels should be based in the main on energy or related criteria, such as greenhouse gas production. In general, the use of comfort or other non-energy-based criteria is not feasible. However, comfort-related factors will be involved in assessing the true energy performance of houses and in the suitability and stringency of different measures in different climates.

Implementation
s

The Australian Building Codes Board should form a committee to advise on the development and implementation of energy efficiency measures for houses.

REGULATORY ISSUES
When developing new building controls there are three distinct areas within the Housing Provisions performance structure that need to be considered.
s s s s

If the energy efficiency measures are determined likely to have a significant negative impact on current industry practices, then a staged approach to their introduction could be considered.

clear Performance Requirements acceptable Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions methodology for Alternative Solutions

The three areas are an integral part of the Housing Provisions and work together to provide effective building controls.

10

E N E R G Y

R E S E A R C H

F O R

T H E

B U I L D I N G

C O D E

O F

A U S T R A L I A

V O L U M E

Education and advice


s

CONCLUSION
The direction of the Objectives, Functional Statements and Performance Requirements of the energy efficiency measures should be determined by the Australian Building Codes Board in conjunction with the Australian Greenhouse Office as a matter of priority. The Performance Requirements should clearly state that the intent is to minimise greenhouse gas emissions by using energy efficiently. To provide information to assist compliance with Deemed-toSatisfy Provisions it is recommended that the Housing Provisions contain Acceptable Construction Practice and reference Acceptable Construction Manual(s). The development of the Acceptable Construction Manual(s) should be managed so that they are available when the energy efficiency measures are introduced. To assist verification of Alternative Solutions, the following processes should be considered: development of assessment methods; publication of a guideline document to assist in the use of assessment methods, and development of an education module and implementation of training on the use of Alternative Solutions.

An education strategy should be developed and implemented. The education strategy should be delivered during the development and implementation of the energy efficiency measures. The education process should involve all aspects of the industry and community affected by the proposed energy efficiency measures. An explanatory information guide should be developed to accompany the introduction of energy efficiency measures into the Housing Provisions.

Individual jurisdictions or associations should consider the likely need for advice when measures are introduced and may wish to provide an energy efficiency measures advisory service for some 18 months from the implementation of the energy efficiency measures.

Enforcement
s

Special conditions for enforcement are not necessary provided that: an education strategy has been developed and implemented; the measures are compatible with industry practice; and supporting resources are available during the implementation period.

Future development
s

The Australian Building Codes Board and Australian Greenhouse Office should agree to continue the development program beyond the initial introduction of energy efficiency measures.

11

E N E R G Y

R E S E A R C H

F O R

T H E

B U I L D I N G

C O D E

O F

A U S T R A L I A

V O L U M E

I M PA C T O F M I N I M U M E N E R G Y P E R F O R M A N C E R E Q U I R E M E N T S F O R C L A S S 1 B U I L D I N G S I N V I C T O R I A E X E C U T I V E S U M M A RY
BACKGROUND
Following studies during the 1980s, regulations for the insulation of new dwellings came into force in Victoria under the Building Control Act (Vic) on 18 March 1991. These regulations were replaced by similar provisions for Class 1 buildings in the Victoria Additions of the Building Code of Australia 1996 Volume Two (BCA96). To meet the objective of efficient use of energy for internal heating and cooling, when seeking building approval it must be demonstrated that the building either:
s

Methodology
In the study, energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission estimates were based on the thermal efficiency of a representative sample of Class 1 buildings built in 1990 (pre-regulation) compared with a sample of similar buildings built in 1999. The study examined 110 council approved house plans from 1990 and 240 plans from 1999. The houses were screened to make sure they were representative of the total building activity in Victoria. The House Energy Rating software tool used for analysis was FirstRate, a member of the NatHERS family of energy modelling tools, developed by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Victoria.

Complies with specified minimum R values of insulation for roof or ceiling, external walls and ground floor (Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions), or

Achieves a House Energy Rating of at least 3 star using a nominated software tool. Apart from the business-as-usual scenario (with regulations in place from 1991), the study also modelled alternative thermal performance scenarios of the building shell for comparative evaluations.

In practice, almost all residential building approvals in Victoria have been based on compliance with minimum insulation requirements.

IMPACT OF ENERGY EFFICIENCY PROVISIONS IN VICTORIA


The National Greenhouse Strategy calls for energy efficiency standards for residential and commercial buildings to be implemented by mandatory standards through amendment of the Building Code of Australia. To help build a better understanding of the effectiveness of Building Energy Codes, the Australian Greenhouse Office and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Victoria, in co-operation with the building industry, the Australian Building Codes Board and Local Government in Victoria, examined the impact of current mandatory energy efficiency measures for houses in Victoria.

KEY FINDINGS
The study estimated that both heating and cooling energy consumption and GHG were 9% less per annum by year 2000 than would have been the case if the minimum energy performance requirements of the building regulations had not been introduced.

Figure 3: Comparative estimates for statewide energy consumption and GHG emissions, per annum

Case study
1990 before regulations 2000 without regulations 2000 with regulations 2000 savings
15

Energy consumption
59.0 PJ 82.6 PJ 75.0 PJ 9%

GHG emissions
4.0 Mt CO2-e 5.5 Mt CO2-e 5.0 Mt CO2-e 9%

PJ (Peta Joules = 10 Joules) Mt CO2-e (million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent)

12

E N E R G Y

R E S E A R C H

F O R

T H E

B U I L D I N G

C O D E

O F

A U S T R A L I A

V O L U M E

Distribution of efficiency
Three alternative cases were modelled for GHG emissions for statewide heating and cooling across the period 1990 to 2000 for the total residential building stock. These case studies assumed thermal performance equivalent to an average performance standard of NatHERS 1, 3 and 5 stars ratings, instead of the current legislation. This modelling has established that without regulations, houses built between 1990 and 2000 would have had an average thermal performance equivalent to less than NatHERS 1 star rating. With current regulations, the post 1991 housing stock was found to have an average performance level of 2.2 stars. Looking solely at houses built after March 1991 (ie those subject to energy efficiency regulations), the study modelled GHG emissions for heating and cooling for a range of thermal performance standards. The findings are compared with the actual performance standard set in the 1991 regulations.
100 90 80
No. of Dwellings (1999)

Despite the introduction of mandatory minimum insulation requirements, the 1999 sample showed that a substantial number of poorly performing houses were produced. Across the total 1999 housing sample, more than 80 percent failed to meet the 3 star performance requirement, with some only achieving 1 star or less. It appears that many costeffective opportunities for energy saving have been missed.

Figure 5: Thermal Efficiency Distribution By Star Rating of the 1999 Sample Housing

120 110 Shepparton Ballarat Melbourne

Figure 4: GHG emissions of buildings for various thermal insulation scenarios in 1999

70 60 50 40 30 20

Case study
5 star rating 4 star rating Higher insulation + double glazing (low-e) 3 star rating Regulations + double glazing (low-e) Higher insulation With 1991 regulations base line 2 star rating No regulations + double glazing (low-e) 1 star rating No regulations

% Change in GHG emissions


31 reduction 23 reduction 21 reduction 14 reduction

10

14 reduction
0

7 reduction 0 3 increase 22 increase 27 increase 36 increase

0.0

0.5

1.0

1.5

2.0

2.5

3.0

3.5

4.0

4.5

5.0

Star Rating

13

E N E R G Y

R E S E A R C H

F O R

T H E

B U I L D I N G

C O D E

O F

A U S T R A L I A

V O L U M E

BUILDING TRENDS 1990-1999


Analysis was also conducted to identify the impacts of the insulation regulations and to highlight trends that have been occurring since regulations were introduced.

PROFILE OF RESIDENTIAL BUILDING SECTOR 1990-1999


Since the introduction of energy efficiency legislation in 1991, it is estimated that 226,000 new Class 1 buildings have been added to the Victorian housing stock, comprising 200,000 detached dwellings and 26,000 attached dwellings. A number of factors unrelated to the 1991 regulations have contributed to improving the overall thermal performance of Victorian housing.

Thermal efficiency
Improvements in average thermal efficiency since the introduction of regulations have been modest:
s

Since 1991-1992 there has been a total of only 6% improvement in building shell thermal efficiency (in terms of energy per unit of floor area).

Increase in average floor area


Average floor areas of detached housing from 1990 to 1999 has risen by 43m or 25%. Average floor areas for detached housing has risen by 35m or 31%. Increased floor area is usually associated with an increase in the floor area to wall area ratio. Analysis of the samples show that the floor area to wall area ratio has increased by approximately 10% between 1990 and 1999. Such an increase will in itself improve the thermal efficiency of the house, all other things being equal.
2 2

This weak trend has levelled off to practically zero over the last few years of the study.

Due to the increasing average floor area per house, total energy consumption per house has actually increased significantly over the period.

Apart from improvements gained as a result of mandatory insulation regulations, improvements in building shell thermal efficiency in other areas of building design are almost non-existent.

Housing types Application of solar passive design principles


Based on criteria established in the report for assessing solar passive design, only 7 houses out of the 240 sampled in 1999 were found to meet the criteria. This is considered representative of current building practice in Victoria. This demonstrates that passive solar design practices are not applied to any significant extent in Victoria by the building industry. Over the study period, there has been a general trend towards an increase in the proportion of attached housing in the building stock in terms of total floor area - from 4% in 1990 to 9% in 1999. The average thermal efficiency of attached housing in the sample was found to be 11% better than for detached housing. The increase in the proportion of attached housing is estimated to account for about 0.6% of the overall improvement in thermal efficiency of housing built since 1991.

14

E N E R G Y

R E S E A R C H

F O R

T H E

B U I L D I N G

C O D E

O F

A U S T R A L I A

V O L U M E

Floors
Over the study period, the use of concrete slab-on-ground floors increased by 5% at the expense of timber construction. The study also shows that the thermal performance of buildings with concrete floors in the sample is 14% better than for suspended timber floors. Whilst other factors apart from greater use of concrete floors may be driving this improvement, this trend is estimated to account for a 0.7% improvement in thermal efficiency of the housing stock since the introduction of the 1991 energy efficiency legislation.

Housing location
Since the introduction of legislation in 1991 there has been a 5% increase in building activity in the Melbourne climate zone at the expense of the more severe Ballarat and Bendigo climate zones. This trend is estimated to account for about 1.8% of the improvement in average thermal efficiency of houses built since the 1991 legislation.

CONCLUSION
The introduction of thermal performance requirements for the building shells of Victorian houses have reduced energy consumption and GHG emissions. Avenues for additional savings have been identified and quantified in the study but not costed. While the present policy of mandatory thermal insulation will continue to deliver significant savings in energy consumption and GHG emissions, the policy offers little scope to go beyond the current practice. The report finds that while there is overall compliance with mandatory requirements for thermal performance, it appears that the residential building industry does not always take advantage of simple or low-cost design options for additional thermal efficiency.

Wall construction
The proportions of each type of wall construction for detached housing were almost identical in 1999 as they were in 1990. Brick veneer accounts for about 85% of all construction for the detached housing market.

Windows
The area of glass per house increased on average by 17% over the period of the study. At the same time, the average conditioned floor area increase by 34%. As a result, the average window to floor area ratio reduced from 31% to 27%. As the thermal resistance of insulated walls is generally higher than for currently used glazing, the trend towards reduced window areas is estimated to account for a small part of the improvement in thermal efficiency of the post 1991 building stock. The use of high performance windows continues to be very limited in Class 1 buildings in Victoria, estimated at less than 2% of the market.

The Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions of BCA96 have delivered residential buildings with a state average rating of NatHERS 2.2 stars, although the performance goal is 3 stars. The insulation component of the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions has also permitted buildings with less than 1 star rating to be constructed.

Housing orientation
The 1990 and 1999 housing samples were analysed to determine the average area of glazing on each facade. While there is a clear bias for facades to align with the ordinal points of the compass there is little bias shown towards the use of windows in any one of these directions. For the majority of houses in the sample, it appears that little consideration was given to improving thermal efficiency through optimisation of glazing on facades with a northerly aspect.

15